The Brooklyn Nets grabbed 17 rebounds in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.
That set a new NBA record for fewest rebounds in a game, breaking the 18 the Detroit Pistons had against the Charlotte Hornets on November 28, 2001.
This season, a single player has grabbed at least 17 rebounds in a game 45 times. DeAndre Jordan, himself, has done it 16 times. Since the Pistons set the previous record, even relatively small players like Dorell Wright, Bonzi Wells and Rajon Rondo have had 17-rebound games.
But as much fun as it is to ridicule Brooklyn for this record, is it really fair?
Well, yes – but the problem wasn’t rebounding, or at least not just rebounding.
The Nets are a poor rebounding team, and they rebounded especially poorly Friday night. That was a big part of finishing with just 17.
But there were other issues – one neutral and one bad for Brooklyn – that contributed.
The Nets and Thunder played at an estimated pace of 93.14 Friday, which would rank among the NBA’s slowest over the full season. Fewer possessions mean fewer opportunities to accumulate all counting stats, including rebounds.
More significantly, Brooklyn allowed Oklahoma City to shoot 63.6 percent – the highest single-game field-goal percentage of any team this season. It’s hard to grab rebounds when the opponent doesn’t miss.
The Nets’ had 14 defensive rebounds to the Thunder’s 10 offensive rebounds – 58.3 percent of the available defensive rebounds for Brooklyn. That’s a low defensive-rebounding percentage, but teams have done worse 25 times this season.
On the other end, the Nets made a respectable 47.3 percent of their shots, again lowering their opportunities to get rebounds. They had three offensive rebounds to the Thunder’s 31 defensive rebounds – 8.8 percent of the available offensive rebounds for Brooklyn. Again, that’s a poor mark, but teams have gotten a lower percentage of offensive rebounds nine times this season. (Some teams forgo offensive rebounding to set their transition defense, and the Nets did hold Oklahoma City to just 11 fastbreak points.)
Add it all up, and the Nets’ total rebounding percentage in the game was 29.3 – the NBA’s worst single-game rebounding percentage all season. But the Bobcats did worse just last year (27.9 percent against the Utah Jazz on March 1, 2013).
Brooklyn will go into the record book, but its rebounding really wasn’t historically bad.
If you want to mock the Nets for their 17 rebounds – 17! – go for it. It’s plenty of fun to mock the Nets.
But if you want to be really accurate, acknowledge the Nets’ slow pace and then mock them for their defense and rebounding, in that order.